Book Trailer For Madam President

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Hell of the American Vacation

Maybe it goes back to that Chevy Chase movie, Vacation. The Odyssey of the American family looking for some bonding time in one week after spending all year on different channels, different rooms, different floors. We are a modular people now and this goes for our families. No longer do we sit down in the same room and watch the same programs. We disperse to our individual watching zones and then we come together maybe for a dinner with texting below while carrying on the artifice of our lives. Then we decide to take a vacation.

Now no one can switch channels though some try. You never really believed that a vacation as a kid was all that bad. Then you endured the goofy vacations to the wilderness or a lake or camping. Mom and dad did whatever while you ticked off the days. Then you become a parent and understood what mom and dad were doing the whole time—they were busting their ass. This is the shock of the modern American vacation…it is downright exhausting.

The unwilling participants is only part of the vacation. Throw in a teenager and now you have hell on wheels. Vacations are supposed to be the very best of times….a respite from out daily lives. Statistically Ameicans don’t take vacations anymore. They take three day mini vacations. The classic two week vacation of yesteryear is mostly extinct. People just don’t unplug for that long. But even taking a week bucks the norm and suddenly you find yourself working harder than you ever did at work.

The hell of it all is you are trying to catch something that might be elusive if nonexistent. You are trying to find a moment where your family can exist on it’s own without television, IPods, cellphones, PDAs, text mania. This is no small feat. There are few places where a cell signal cannot reach anymore. Texting requires only a faint signal for the burst of kid communication to make it through. The igloo of the family moment is pierced by these surreptitious shots out to the real world and your children never really go off line as they endure mom and dad’s goofy vacation.

Which is sad. Vacations should be the one time where the world is at bay and children and adults can play in the realm of the family unit. There are no models for this anymore. Families exist like spokes on a wheel now and with social networking those spokes get longer and longer. Many times conversations are three ways whether we like it or not with the buzzing phone butting in while you have a heart to heart with little Suzie or Johnny. And there might be nothing new under the sun. Teenage boredom is as old as the hills and I remember sitting in an ocean cottage counting the days. But I also remember those days as some of the best of my life.

Books by William Hazelgrove